After years of waiting, 2013 finally brought the release of Sony and Microsoft?s next-gen consoles. Sadly, their launch exclusives failed to set the world on fire, but that means several excellent last-gen titles have a chance to shine now that Game of the Year voting has rolled around, since they?ve avoided being dwarfed by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One behemoths.Despite the crazy amount of triple-A titles that released this year, it was actually indie games that caught my eye in 2013. For the first time, two of them actually made it into my top five (I won?t spoil which ones just yet). Of course, there was still room for a couple of major titles, though a few that I expected to make it on my list at the start of the year?Battlefield 4, I?m looking at you?failed to live up to expectations.
Matt’s Top Five Games for 2013
The Fullbright Company
The Fullbright CompanyPlatforms:
PC, Mac, Linux
This incredibly late entry to my list almost passed me by completely. A short but deeply engrossing tale, Gone Home kept me guessing right up to its conclusion. Who would have thought that just wandering around a house looking at ordinary objects could hook me in the way that this did. However, it?s what I discovered that really made the experience. As I wandered around my in-game family?s empty house, the psuedo-horror feeling that the game delivered was unbelievable. I ended up creating my own fears as I started to guess at what happened to my sister, father, and mother. Not many games can do that to a player.
#04: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Level-5 / Studio GhibliPlatforms:
Ni no Kuni was by far the cutest, most lovable game I played all year, and by the end of the opening cutscene, I was hooked. Drippy, Lord High Lord of the Fairies, is the most adorable, likable character that gaming?s produced in a long while. In fact, if it hadn?t have been for him, Ni no Kuni may not have made it into the top five. Studio Ghibli?s art style made it an absolute pleasure to wander around the world and really made each character stand out. Combine this with the Pokémon-esque familiars, and you?ve got the recipe for an instant classic.
The Stanley Parable is not on this list for its gameplay?far from it. It?s here for its narrator, a man you can choose to either listen to or rebel against, with actual consequences for each. The first time the narrator randomly restarts the game, you realize you have no real control. Even when you choose to ignore instructions, you find yourself questioning if it’s really your decision. It?s the little quirks like this that make The Stanley Parable so addictive. There are multiple endings, but there?s no real end to the game. You can never win?it?s all about the adventure.
Xbox 360, PS3
Grand Theft Auto V may have only taken second place, but it was incredibly close. Rockstar took their time and delivered a GTA experience that I haven?t felt since Vice City. Regardless of how big and impressive the world was, it was the characters that truly made this game. I know everyone thinks that Trevor was the star of the show, but the straight-talking Michael was the glue that held the experience together, especially when he?s explaining his problems to his shrink?beautiful moments. There?s far too much in this game for me to possibly experience everything, and that’s an unusual thing in today’s market.
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
The world of Columbia was just too beautiful to not sit on top of the pile, which included several outstanding games this year. BioShock Infinite just had that special something?like the mesmerizing floating barbershop quartet at the beginning of the game, for example?that made it feel like you weren’t the center of attention. The world hadn’t been built for you?you’d simply been dropped in. Of course, a world is nothing without its cast, and the way that Booker and Elizabeth interact is like nothing I’ve seen before in a game. The words, “Booker, catch!” will live on in my memory forever.
Matt’s Off-Topic Awards for 2013
Childhood Dream Come True Award
Pokémon X / Y
Oh, what a glorious day it was when I finally got my hands on Pokémon X. Ever since playing Pokémon Red on the Game Boy, I’ve fantasized about the day that a fully 3D Pokemon RPG would be released. This marked the year that Nintendo finally delivered. It?s just a shame that there are now over 700 Pokémon to try to remember, but no matter how many are added, Gyarados is still No. 1!
“How Did I Not Work That Out?!” Award
A game hasn?t made me feel so stupid as Antichamber did in a very long time. My defining moment was being trapped in a seemingly endless circular corridor. All I had to do was walk a little farther and I was out, but I ended up running backward and forward for ages trying to work it out. If it weren?t for the Internet, I?d still be there now.
?There?s No Way That Will Be Good? Perseverance Award
Final Fantasy XIV
It was a brave move for Naoki Yoshida and his team to take over Final Fantasy XIV after it flopped in a big way, but they kept at it and delivered something that no one ever even thought possible: an MMO that could compete at the top of the market. Everybody repeatedly said it was better to just let it die, but Square Enix said no, and it single-handedly turned the publisher’s financial fortunes around.
EGMNOW’s Best of 2013 Awards Schedule